As part of our regular blog articles, we catch up with Clark & Lake´s owner, Andrew Thompson to find out a little bit more about him and the thinking behind the charcuterie and bar.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background
I´m 43, from Arbroath originally but I´ve lived in Edinburgh for the last two years with my wife Jackie. I worked in the music business for 20 years, firstly for EMI Records and then I set up my own company, SevenFour Music and worked with artists such as Robbie Williams, Pink Floyd, Nile Rogers, Kate Bush and Corinne Baily Rae. After such a long time working in music, I was looking to do something a bit different and as I´ve always had a keen interest in the restaurant and bar trade, I wanted to come up with a concept that was a bit different.
So how did you come up with the idea of a charcuterie and bar?
I´ve always enjoyed eating charcuterie and cheese and whilst living in Barcelona for five years, we were surrounded by this style of eating. I´ve travelled a lot in the UK for work too and spent a lot of time in Leeds where one of my favourite bars is based, Friends of Ham. I saw that it was a success in Leeds so it gave me the confidence to try something similar in Edinburgh.
How would you sum up what you are looking to offer at Clark & Lake?
It´s all about offering great, simple and honest food in a casual setting along with some great wine, beer and spirits.
Why the name Clark & Lake?
Everyone asks “So are you Clark or Lake?”. Clark & Lake is actually a subway station in Chicago, USA and as my best friend lives there, I´ve spent a lot of time over the years visiting the city. It has an amazing restaurant and bar scene and when I pulled up to the station one day I thought, oh, that would make a great name for a restaurant. Last year I found a bit of paper in my notebook where I´d scribbled it down and here we are… Clark & Lake.
Regarding the décor in Clark & Lake, where do the influences come from?
I would say that Barcelona is definitely a big influence given we lived there for five years. It´s an amazing city so a lot of the menu choices, presentation and design of the restaurant come from our time living in such a fantastic location. Clark and Lake is actually the only Scottish bar to sell Moritz Lager, the local tipple in Barcelona and we have four Spanish hams I used to eat all in the time in my favourite charcuterie bar in Barcelona called La Pineda. The design of Clark and Lake is very influenced from a favourite restaurant of ours there called Bodega 1900, so I definitely have Barcelona to thank for a lot of the inspiration.
Will the menu be changing according to seasonal produce etc?
Yes, we´re changing the menu every month. Sometimes it may only be one or two changes, such as next month, we´re looking to add whitebait and a meatball sandwich to the small dishes menu. We will also change over some of the cheeses after I have a tasting session with our supplier, IJ Mellis. It´s a hard job, but someone´s got to do it!
Are you using local suppliers´ produce in your restaurant?
Yes, we´re using Dough Re Mi Bakery for all my bread, IJ Mellis for the cheeses, Pickerings Gin plus Drinkmonger for our whisky, rum, vodka and port. As well as these, we´re also using a great selection of independent suppliers from across the UK.
Finally, if someone was to come in for dinner, what would you say are the ´must haves´ from your menu?
They should have a mixed board of two meats and two cheeses, probably the Carne Salata, Coppa, Brie and Shropshire Blue then some of the deep-fried olives and cauliflower fritelle. All finished off with some of the chocolate sorbet we serve from the Chocolate Tree.